Going to the dogs: Dermatologic research in dogs may also benefit humans

By Liz Meszaros, MDLinx
Published August 7, 2017

Key Takeaways

Just as dermatologic disorders such as atopic dermatitis and ringworm can affect both pets and their people, new research in this area can benefit both animals and humans as well.

“Dermatologists, veterinarians, and scientists can learn a lot from one another,” says board-certified dermatologist Jennifer Gardner, MD, FAAD, assistant professor of dermatology, University of Washington, Seattle, WA, and a collaborating member, UW Center for One Health Research. “When we work together and share our expertise, it can improve the health of humans and animals alike, as well as the health of the environment they share.”

She added: “If your dog has a skin condition, you may unnecessarily avoid her because you’re afraid you could catch what she has, and this can interfere with the mutually beneficial human-animal bond. By collaborating with our veterinary colleagues, however, dermatologists can help you understand what’s going on with your pet, whether it can affect you and how you can ensure the health of everyone in your household, both people and animals.”

Over the past 10 years, the idea of collaboration across different medical and scientific disciplines has garnered more support and interest. Researchers at One Health strive to understand the links between humans, animals, and the environment. Their findings may help to also better determine which conditions can be transferred from animals to humans and from humans to animals, as well as which cannot.

According to Dr. Gardner, this is especially true for animals sharing a household environment with people.

“We humans don’t exist in a bubble,” said Dr. Gardner. “We’re all interconnected with our environment and the other species that share that environment, so it just makes sense that we can learn from them.”

One example of such a condition is canine atopic dermatitis, and the development of systemic and immune-based treatments. In the future, these findings may be applicable in treating humans. Another example is the treatment of microscopic mites and animals, which may help shed light on the treatment of mite-related conditions in people, including rosacea and hair loss.

“When different specialists work together, the benefits are evident across all their fields,” Dr. Gardner concluded. “In learning from other physicians and scientists, dermatologists can build on their own expertise to provide the best possible treatment for their patients.”

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